Tuesday, March 11, 2008

University Gives Away iPhones & Apple Computers

Yesterday I posted on Abilene Christian University and their plan to give students a choice between an iPhone or an iPod Touch and the teaching/learning applications they hope to implement on these devices. Days later another Chronicle article announced that Oklahoma Christian (OC) University will give away both an iPhone/iPod Touch AND an Apple laptop computer to all incoming freshman this next fall. According to the OC web page regarding mobile learning:
The vision of incorporating instructional technology tools into teaching and learning is critical to our future success and the success of our graduates. We are excited about this new phase of mobile learning at Oklahoma Christian University and will continue to search for ways to enhance teaching and learning.
On March 5, 2008 yet another Chronicle article suggests that giving away gadgets such as these is just a gimmick.

If they were giving away gadgets and computers with no plan in place to incorporate these technologies into the teaching and learning process, then I might agree. But as Phil J. Schubert, executive vice president for Abilene University stated, "What separates us from some of the fads of the past is that this is not a technology initiative, this is a learning initiative." And this is what I feel is important to understand. It doesn't really matter what device is used, what matters is what they will do with that device to add value. Students are already attached to handheld devices of some kind, therefore there is no need to wonder if they will use them. If colleges and universities implement teaching/learning applications that make sense and are easy to use, I believe they will be successful and mobile learning in the U.S. will finally take off.

So once again, if/when this happens, what will it mean to educators (and that includes librarians), in higher education? How might we contribute to this new teaching/learning platform?

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